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Pak jehadi group redefines terror

world Updated: Feb 27, 2008 18:43 IST
Amit Baruah
Amit Baruah
Hindustan Times
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For a group that "lost" some 15,000 jehadis in efforts to "liberate" Jammu & Kashmir till 2001, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, an alias for the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, has done an incredible volte-face.

The Jamaat, headed by Hafiz Saeed, now believes that bomb blasts at public places, damaging public property; random killing of innocent people, raping women and other crimes against humanity are "blatant acts of terrorism".

The Jamaat's website, http://www.jamatuddawa.org/, claims that whoever carries out such acts, whether an organisation or a state, is a terrorist. And, wonder of wonders, the Jamaat also claims that it has always carried out its activities peacefully.

It looks as if the Pakistani State "pressure" and the desire to continue with relief activities in the country led the Jamaat to adopt this new posture. Interestingly, the group says it does not believe in armed struggle against "Muslim rulers in Islamic countries".

Keeping its option open to wage armed struggle against India, this formulation is, clearly, a reference to Pakistan. "Such activities (armed struggle) not only weaken the Muslim nation…but also provide an opportunity for non-believers…to succeed in their nefarious schemes."

For a group that has also been consistently hurling abuse against Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and his pro-India policies, the Jamaat has now adopted an almost unrecognisable position.

"We can force neither the rulers, nor the people, to change. Those who use violence to impose their point of view actually lack the force of argument," the Jamaat says about its aims and objectives on the website.

The Jamaat, aka the Lashkar, has tried hard to distance itself from the terrorist group responsible for some sensational terrorist attacks on Indian soil. However, there are few takers for such views.

In April 2006, the US State Department announced the addition of the Jamaat to the list of aliases under which the Lashkar-e-Taiba had been operating.

The Lashkar, the State Department said at the time, was one of the three largest and best-trained groups fighting in Kashmir against India. "After the Secretary of State's designation of LET as a terrorist organization in 2001 and the Pakistani government's banning the group, the LET renamed itself the JUD (Jamaat)."

In his latest sermon, posted online, Jamaat chief Hazfiz Saeed believes that America's dream of a new world order was about to be shattered just like Russia's dream of global hegemony was smashed.

Clearly, the message of the group has been diluted, but Saeed's anti-American rhetoric continues in a muted fashion.

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